Occasionally in my read through scriptures, a phrase will leap out at me and remain present throughout the rest of my reading, almost a distraction. After a while, I will circle back and study that phrase for further insights.
This a.m. in John 10:1, only eleven words into my read, there it was. “I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen through the gate, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber.”
Context is important. Jesus was questioning the newly healed blind man, and of course the religious were always nearby. Not the well-meaning church folk, but those hoping to catch Him in some flawed statement; kind of the same ilk as our contemporary ultra-partisan politicians!
Of late, I have become personally aware of the brokenness of humanity, to include myself! Even those most conscientious about following the ways of Christ have a dark side. In fact, John commented on this earlier in verses 2:24, 25: “But Jesus would not entrust himself to them (speaking of believers), for he knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.” (NIV).
I am a sheep, a smelly one at times, and though occasionally I try to lead (shepherd) I quickly become convinced of “what was (is) in a man.” We are broken at best. Thank God, we have a Shepherd. Thank God for the security of a “pen.”
The Gate, Christ himself, who was God our Creator, is and ever shall be our Abba Father! He was and is the Way. His lifestyle, his demonstration of mercy and love, is the way. What greater love has no man, than to lay down one’s life for another. Sinning, the falling short of the glory of God, we do well! Forgiving, accepting, inclusion, not so well!
With sin always comes guilt and the need of “redemption” (chose your on word). Perhaps guilt, that sickening feeling is more a part of our brokenness than God’s demand, for God knows we are “sheep.”
The Good News, He became “sin” for us! The Shepherd became a sheep, a lamb, one sacrificed, once and for all; ever resolving the sin imposed need of redemption! Let’s not make this difficult.
That is always good news in my darkest moments!
This is by no means my attempt to say that American Christianity is the Way, nor that the “Jesus” often presented by legalistic evangelicals (perhaps the Pharisees of our day) is the only way. I’ll let the reader percolate (coffee in hand) on that one.
In fact, the Gate Keeper Himself was by no means an exclusionist: “I have other sheep that are not a part of this sheep pen. I must bring them also.” John 10:16a (NIV).